With the first grain shipments having left Ukraine, a global food crisis may be a little less likely and, in fact, while we are all still suffering from high inflation, the Food and Agriculture Office (FAO) reports that its Food Price (FPI) Index has actually fallen over the last three months.

This, however, is not the case for poultry meat, or meat in general, both of which are registering record highs.

Ever upward

The FPI, which has tracked monthly changes in a basket of international food prices for over a auarter of a century, shows that for poultry meat, a new record was set in June. Published in early July, the index averaged 124.7 points, up by 2.1 points, or 1.7% from May. The Poultry Index has, in fact, risen every month since March, after declining slightly in February.

The FAO attributes June’s increase in poultry meat prices to the impact of the war in Ukraine and to outbreaks of avian influenza in the Northern Hemisphere.

The traditionally cheap meat was not alone in witnessing higher prices, and prices for all meats edged up over the month. Bovine meat, for example, rose, as China lifted restrictions on Brazilian exports. China may now be purchasing less pig meat than before, but this is not the case for other leading importers, which helped pig meat prices recover during the period, while international prices of ovine meat are also reported to have bounced back, due to New Zealand’s lower export volumes.

The Meat Price Index has risen every month this year.

Food off highs

The international market for meat is behaving differently to the overall market for food. The FPI, which averaged 154.2 points in June, was down 2.3% from May, the third consecutive monthly decline. While this may be positive, it is worth remembering that the index is still up 23.1% on this time last year.

There may yet, be a little more alignment in the statistics as, the FAO notes, figures for the two most recent months for poultry and meat generally are subject to revision.

And looking forward, if more grain makes it out of Ukraine, then we may see further declines across the index both broadly and specifically. Meat may follow in the footsteps of cereals, oils and sugar, which could be good news for everyone.